In Sri Lanka, the COVID-19 pandemic has been used as an excuse to vilify religious minorities and other marginalized groups, such as women apparel workers, as "spreaders" of the virus. For example, some government officials and media outlets disseminated false information that Muslims invented the virus and have deliberately spread it.
Hashtag Generation is an organization led by a group of young tech-savvy Sri Lankans working towards building a society where citizens have the skills, information, and tools to be active participants in making the decisions that affect their communities, technologies and bodies. The group adopts a non-partisan approach and works with the strong conviction that decision-making at all levels should remain transparent and inclusive and in order to remain sustainable and build lasting peace in Sri Lanka.
Countering Hate Speech with Video in Multiple Languages
The group mobilizes social and new media tools to raise awareness and catalyze dialogue on important social issues. Their work has ranged from strengthening youth civic and political engagement, advocacy for the rights of ethnic, religious and sexual minorities, raising awareness on the importance of critical thinking in the digital age and monitoring and countering misinformation and online hate speech.
Senel Wanniarachchi of Hashtag Generation produced a video countering COVID-19 hate speech with the support of Internews' Story Fellowship Program in Sri Lanka. The video is available in English, Sinhala, and Tamil.
Internews' ISLAND project in Sri Lanka is funded by DRL.